I’m sitting outside as I write this enjoying a fire in my backyard fireplace. I’m a bit of a pyro and for fun I thought I’d try and build a fire on top of a phone-book (seriously, they are still giving those things out?). In attempting this, I learned that starting a fire on top of a phone-book is not nearly as easy or exciting as you might think.
I had to give this fire much more TLC than normal and in the process I realized there are essentially three elements to building a good fire:
- firestarter (newspaper in my case)
- kindling (smalls shreds of wood that I ripped off of other pieces)
- heavy logs
Building a raging fire needs these three ingredients (assuming you aren’t using “cheater” methods like gasoline). All three play radically different parts. The firestarter cannot sustain itself for long but is quick to light. The kindling lights farely quick and will burn for a bit. The heavier logs take awhile to light but can sustain the flame for the longest amount of time. The quickest way to a healthy, natural fire is to strategically incorporate all three.
As I stare at my fire I wonder if this is true when it comes to people and God. I believe that each of us are on different points in our own journey with God. Those of us that have found him can point to the people that helped us get there. But like a fire, people can help you in your faith in different ways. The problem is that we tend to want everybody to play all three roles.
There are evangelists (firestarter), people who ooze Jesus out of everything they say and have a natural way of tying in just about anything in their life to what God is doing. They introduce many people to Christ for the very first time. There are encouragers (kindling), people who live in community with you and help you connect the dots. They may even be new in their faith as well but they have seen God at work and have learned how to help others do the same. Finally, there are the teachers (heavy logs), those people who may say things that sound like jibberish to you but eventually are able to teach you some new profound truth that changes how you see God.
Here is how I think this should affect us:
- Realize that the Church needs all three and that each person plays a different part
- Recognize which one you are and aggressively try and play your part for other people
- Recognize the people around you and identify which one they are. Rely on them for their strengths.
Not every person can be everything. The senior pastor of your church isn’t the only one, (or probably even the best one) that can visit you at the hospital. This is obviously a simple way to look at spiritual gifts (and my three words could be replaced with dozens of others) but I think we may have a healthier fire of faith if we were able to better recognize the ways in which it is built.